What I Carry

Mike’s Micro-Carry System

I’ve almost always been the guy...

...who carries a full-size handgun for CCW. I was willing to forego comfort for capability, wanting to make sure I had a gun both effective and reliable. But, over the years I sized things down a bit. While I carried a full-size Springfield Armory TRP 1911 .45 ACP in my early CCW days, I currently carry a “mid-sized” Smith & Wesson M&P9 M2.0 Compact 9mm.

However, I’ve been thinking lately about those who don’t want to (or cannot) carry a large handgun, and where even a traditional “compact” handgun like an S&W J-Frame or a Ruger LCP may be too large. I’m talking about truly small handguns, in the “micro” size range. So as an experiment, I set about putting together a “micro-carry” system of the smallest practical gun and support gear I could find.

Mike’s “Micro-Carry Rig” is made up of a Holster Grip-equipped NAA .22 Magnum backed up with a Tuff Products QuickStrip
loaded with Speer and CCI ammo. Rounding out the package is a Streamlight ProTac light and a Lansky “World Legal” knife

The Foundation

When it comes to truly tiny handguns, no discussion would be complete without considering North American Arms (NAA). With its broad selection of mini revolvers and semi-auto Guardian pistols, NAA is a great source for deep-cover carry guns.

Due to their small size, I was drawn to NAA’s single-action, 5-shot revolver line, specifically the NAA-22MSC-HG. This 6.2 oz. gun is part of the company’s “Standard Magnum” line of .22 Magnum revolvers and comes with an additional .22 LR cylinder so you can shoot both cartridges. MSRP on this one with both cylinders is $301.

The revolver features NAA’s very clever “Holster Grip” (more on this in a moment). I selected this one as it gave a me a good balance between compact size and the increased power of the .22 Mag round — as well as the ability to practice with .22 LR.

The mini revolver’s Holster Grip unfolds to provide a full-size grip for the tiny little 5-shot magnum.

Don’t plan on a speed reload with this one! You must pull the cylinder pin to release the cylinder from the frame.

The Support Team

As it’s always handy to have a light, I decided to team the NAA with an ultra-compact flashlight. Since I’d been chatting with Streamlight about some other products, I did some digging on their site and found the ProTac 1AAA Pen Light. Weighing a little over 1 oz. and measuring just under 4", the little light costs around $30 and provides up to 115 lumens of power. It has three programmable modes — high, low and strobe.

Clearly, when you’re packing a rimfire for self-defense proper ammo selection is a must. This NAA has a miniscule 1 1/8" barrel, so getting the most out of the .22 Mag. in it is a must. I ordered some Speer Gold Dot “Short Barrel Personal Protection” 40-gr. loads optimized for use in short barrels as well as some .22 Mag. CCI Maxi Mag shotshells. (Practical? Probably not. Fun? Most likely.) For carrying spare ammo with the gun I picked up a two-pack of Tuff Products’ QuickStrips which hold 10 rounds each and cost only $9.45.

The AAA battery-powered Streamlight ProTac Pen Light weighs just 1 oz.,
and has three programmable modes — low, high and strobe.

Mike tested the NAA with Speer’s “Short Barrel Personal Protection” .22 Magnum loads as
well as CCI’s Maxi Mag .22 Magnum shotshells packing 52 grains of #12 shot.

Hands On

Considering the size and chambering of the NAA, I decided to keep my testing distances for it realistic — namely 5 yards. This is a tiny revolver designed for “bad breath” distance, so this seemed pretty reasonable to me.

I ran about 50 rounds of the Speer ammo through the gun for accuracy and found it gave me pretty consistent 1.5" groups with a few fliers at that distance, hitting about 4" below point of aim with the miniscule sights. Out of curiosity, I chronographed the Speer ammo as well as some .22 LR 40-gr. Federal Gold Medal with the secondary cylinder, with the LR running about 800 fps and the magnum about 150 fps faster. This is not an insignificant difference in velocity and seemed to make it worth the added noise and recoil of the .22 Mag. ammo.

I also tried out the CCI MaxiMag Shotshells, which packs 52 grains of #12 shot. I discovered real fast this was a very short-range proposition out of the stubby barrel of the NAA. I started at 3 yds. and soon discovered a mere few feet was the optimal range for this load out of the NAA. If you want to take out a snake with this one, you better plan on getting close!

On the subject of recoil … I must admit, I was surprised at the amount of it with the .22 Mag. load. This little gun was a handful, and I was very glad to have the folding holster grip for added purchase. On the other hand, the .22 LR loads were pipsqueaks out of the gun. Gentle and fun to shoot.

Speaking of the Holster Grip, this is a really interesting option for these little guns. It’s made from polymer and is designed to fold in on the gun and cover the exposed trigger. To use, simple unfold until the grip locks in the firing position. Two spring-loaded buttons pop out into holes on the sides of the grip when opened, and you simply press in these two buttons and fold it back when the gun is ready to go back into your pocket. The grip has a reversible pocket clip allowing you to clip the gun inside your pocket like a folding knife, making the gun look like a largish knife when put there. Neat!

Also, don’t plan on quick presentations or fast reloads with this system. Drawing the NAA and unfolding it does take a few seconds, and reloading is downright glacial in its pace. First, place the hammer in the half-cock position on the empty gun. Press in the button on the end of the cylinder pin and pull the pin free, allowing the cylinder to be removed. You can use the cylinder pin to punch out the fired cases, and then reload the chambers and reinsert the cylinder. Reinstall the cylinder pin until it locks in place, and you’re ready to go.

The Max Mag loads proved to be a very short-range affair. This pattern was fired at a
mere 1 ft on a Champion Target VisiColor target roughly 8" in diameter.


With its compact size, feathery light weight and clever Holster Grip, the NAA was a pleasure to carry. To be honest, it was easy to forget it was there. Regarding carrying the gun, you may be wondering if you need to carry it with one empty chamber under the hammer. Nope. NAA thoughtfully cut hammer safety slots (notches) between the chambers so you can lower the hammer down between them and not have it in line with the cartridges.

I discovered a pair of Levi jeans work very well with the NAA and the rest of the kit. In particular, the vestigial “watch pocket” they all have in the right-hand front pocket proved to be a perfect carrier for my QuickStrip with 10 spare rounds — but bear in mind, I’m a southpaw and carry the gun in my left pocket. The ammo was completely concealed, with just the pull tab of the QuickStrip sticking up out of the pocket. This, combined with the Streamlight light, gave me 15 total rounds of .22 Mag. along with a handy little light — and it all disappeared into my pockets easily. Just for fun, I decided to make five of the rounds on the QuickStrip CCI shotshells. Who knows, I might end up getting overrun by venomous vipers at some point! Hope they give me time to load the rounds, though …

The ambidextrous Holster Grip allows for easy pocket carry and makes the NAA look like a largish pocket knife.

And, continuing my “low-profile” carry theme with the NAA I also decided to add a Lansky Madrock “World Legal” knife. This slip-joint knife has a 9Cr18MoV stainless steel 2 3/4" blade, is ambidextrous with its two-position reversible pocket clip, and weighs just 4 oz. So, if I end up somewhere I cannot carry the NAA, I can fall back on this as my defensive backup. Oh, and it’s very reasonably priced with an MSRP of just $29.99.

The Lansky Madrock “World Legal” knife is a slip-joint knife with a beefy 2¾" blade, weighing just 4 oz.


So, I have my new rig fully set and ready to go and I love it! It’s handy, light and easy to carry. Is it comparable to my Smith & Wesson 9mm in speed or power? No way. But, it’s a tiny little system I like to keep in the mix for when I might need something more suited for Baby Bear rather than Papa Bear — and it also makes for an easy-to-carry backup gun for the large Smith & Wesson. Also, it’s just plain neat!

For more info:

NAA Standard Magnum NAA-22MSC-HG

Streamlight ProTac 1AAA Pen Light

Speer Gold Dot “Short Barrel Personal Protection”

CCI Maxi Mag Shotshells

Tuff Products QuickStrips

Lansky Madrock “World Legal” Knife